FICTION

Staying the Night

Introducing the perfectly outrageous young lady in the perfectly preposterous situation

BRANDON FLEMING August 15 1935
FICTION

Staying the Night

Introducing the perfectly outrageous young lady in the perfectly preposterous situation

BRANDON FLEMING August 15 1935

Staying the Night

Introducing the perfectly outrageous young lady in the perfectly preposterous situation

BRANDON FLEMING

GEORGE PASCALL threw off the bedclothes and performed prodigies of chest expansion at his bedroom window. In the bathroom he produced a volume of sound indicative of contentment with life, but a complete lack of vocal ability. It was perfect summer weather, and the prospect of an early run into the country for a day’s golf was a pleasant one to a carefree young man with excellent health and private means. He finished dressing and went into the sitting room of his very comfortable flat. Breakfast was ready laid. He turned away from the open window overlooking the park as Mockett put the eggs and bacon on the table.

“Morning, Mockett.”

“Good morning, sir,” said Mockett.

“A blithe morning.”

"Yes, sir. Excuse me, sir—”

George looked at him. There was an unusual hesitancy, even a suggestion of chill, in his manner.

“Well?”

Mockett pulled himself together.

“There’s—er—a young lady, sir—”

His master started.

“A young what?”

“Lady,sir.”

“Here in the flat?”

“Yes, sir. She wishes to see you immediately.”

George glanced at the clock on the mantelpiece.

“At half-past eight? It’s hardly decent, Mockett.” “Hardly, sir.”

“What’s her name?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

“Didn’t you ask her?”

“Yes, sir. She refused to tell me.”

“Dash it,” said George reasonably, “if she wants to see me— Where is she? In the hall?”

Mockett coughed.

“No, sir. In the spare room.”

George jumped. The coffee he was pouring into his cup splashed over the edge into the saucer.

“I—in the spare room?”

“Yes, sir.”

The young man’s face became alarming. He replaced the milk jug on the tray with a force that nearly broke it.

“Did you take her there?”

Mockett stiffened.

“No, sir. Your saucer, sir—”

“Hang my saucer. What’s she doing in the spare room?” “At the moment—nothing, sir.”

“When did she come?”

“Last night, sir.”

There was a pause. George stared at him blankly.

“Are you sober, Mockett?”

“Perfectly, sir. I found the young lady in the spare room when I went in a few minutes ago. She informed me she had been there all night.”

“Did she tell you how she got in?” asked George weakly. “No, sir. I did not think it my place to press for details.” The piece of bacon in transit on the young man’s fork dropped back on to his plate.

“But this is scandalous, Mockett.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Disgraceful.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Definitely against my principles.”

“Y-yes, sir.”

“You mean to say there’s been a girl in the spare room all night—and I didn’t know?”

Mockett coughed again.

“It would seem to be so, sir, if the young lady’s statement is correct.”

George brought his spoon down sharply on the top of his first egg.

“I never heard of such a thing, Mockett.”

“No, sir.”

“Never. Is she dressed?”

Mockett gazed out straight in front of him.

“Completely, sir—or I should not have conversed with her.”

George looked at him sternly.

“Mockett—”

“Sir?”

“Is she pretty?”

“So far as I am a judge, sir, I should say decidedly.’

“Bring her here.”

“Very good, sir,” said Mockett coldly.

A FEW MINUTES later Mockett opened the door again.

His face when he appeared, and his voice when he spoke, were entirely without expression.

“The young lady, sir.”

“Good lord !” said George.

He got up quickly. The girl was more than pretty, she was adorable. Her face was perfect, and she had the particular shade of bumished-gold hair he specially admired. She wore a simple but very well-cut costume, and a smart little hat. She was perfectly composed.

“Good morning,” she said pleasantly.

George was so taken aback that for a moment he stared at her helplessly. He squeezed out a weak “Good morning.”

She glanced at the table.

“If that’s bacon,” she said, “I’ll have just one teeny piece.”

Her host clutched the back of his chair.

“Mockett,” he said feebly, “lay another place.”

The girl came round the table. Her smile was delightful.

“A beautiful morning,” she said brightly.

George recovered himself with an effort.

“One of our very best,” he said politely.

She looked out through the open window.

“It’s lovely. Just look at the sun on those trees.” “Wonderful,” said George.

“I always like this view over the park,” she said softly. “So do I,” said George. “Mockett, boil another egg.” “Certainly, sir,” returned Mockett icily.

' I 'HE GIRL turned back from the window. There was no doubt about her beauty. She was the loveliest creature George had ever seen, and his experience was fairly extensive. She sat down at the table and helped herself to toast. He ixxired out a cup of coffee and handed it across to her.

“I suppose,” she said slowly, “you want to know what I’m doing in your flat?”

George waved the question aside.

“Not at all! No doubt you had excellent reasons for breaking and entering, or whatever they call it. Please don’t trouble to explain. I am perfectly satisfied.” He put two rashers on a plate and placed it in front of her. “The only thing I should like to know is your name.”

She hesitated.

“Your real one,” said George.

“My name’s Ann,” she told him.

“Really Ann?”

“Positively Ann. Ann Morton.”

“Ann is sufficient. Mine is George.”

‘Truly?”

“Absolutely. George Pascali. George is also sufficient.” They settled themselves to breakfast.

“Coffee all right, Ann?”

“Beautiful, George.”

“This is topping,” said George happily. “The English breakfast table—summer morning—happy family life— h’m. If you fancy anything that doesn’t appear to be in stock, we shall be pleased to send for it. I am afraid Mockett is a little shaken. He is not used to emergencies of this nature. You must excuse him. Egg nice?”

“Just right,” said Ann.

He bent toward her over the small table.

“Ann—”

“Yes, George?”

“I’m rather puzzled over one thing.”

“What?”

“How did you get in?”

She took another twist of butter.

“The fire escape,” she replied briefly.

“By Jove!” said George, “I never thought of that.”

“I climbed up, and got in through the window. It was a very dark night. No one saw me.”

“Very strange.” said George. “Interesting to a student of psychology, or nightology. or some other ology. Did the overwhelming urge to pass the dark hours in my spare room come on you suddenly, or had it been simmering under the surface from early childhood?”

He decided there wras nothing in the world quite so delicious as her laugh. The idea of golf was a thing of the past. He drew his chair a little closer to hers.

“With regard to the immediate future, several fairly bright ideas occur to me. A very nice run out into the country ...”

She shook her head, glancing at the clock.

“Quite out of the question,” she declared firmly.

George ignored the objection.

“The matter of lunch ...”

She finished her coffee.

“I couldn't possibly spend the day with someone I didn’t know.”

“Dash it all,” said George, “surely you can spend the day after staying the night?”

“Entirely different,” she said decidedly. “I had an important reason for coming here.”

“I have no wish,” said George stiffly, “to pry into the

secrets of the spare room, but I think I am entitled to know

what the reason was.”

“Something I want very badly.”

“What?”

“Money.”

“Money?” said George blankly.

She nodded.

“Yes—money.”

He stared at her in alarm.

“Great Scott! You don’t mean to say you’re going to blackmail me? Or rob Mockett?”

“Neither,” she said.

“Then how in the world—”

She looked at the clock again.

“If you really want to know—”

She stopped suddenly. They both turned in their chairs. “Hullo!” said George. “What’s that?”

npiIERE WAS the sound of a loud knock at the front door.

It was a quick, excited sort of knock. George paused, with the coffee jxit in mid-air. The girl laid down her knife and fork with a careful deliberation, as one preparing for action. Voices, a man’s and a woman’s, reached them from the hall. Then the d;x>r opened, and Mockett appeared. There were indications of strain on his face.

"A lady and gentleman, sir.”

“For me?” said George.

“I am not quite sure, sir,” said Mockett guardedly.

He was pulled unceremoniously away from the door. A g(xxl-looking young man pushed his way in. 1 íe was followed by a tall, dark-haired girl. They had evidently been hurrying and were considerably out of breath.

Ann jumixxl up from lier chair.

“You’re too kite! We’ve had breakfast.”

“Dam !” said the young man sincerely.

He went up to the table and inspected the empty plates and dishes. Then he turned back to the girl at the door.

"She’s done us.” lie said gloomily.

Ann laughed triumphantly.

“Of course I have. I told you I would.”

George stared at them helplessly. Astonishment seemed to hold him speechless. The dark girl came farther into the room. The expression of her face suggested a member of the feline species deprived of a choice mouse by superior cunning.

“How long have you been here?” she demanded.

“All night,” said Ann crisply.

The new arrivals started.

“What?” exclaimed the young man.

“I have been here,” said Ann definitely, “since quarter to twelve last night.”

The other two regarded each other in silence. There wras an awkward pause.

“If you ask me," said the young man, “I should say—”

George coughed. The time seemed to have come for him to make a contribution to the proceedings.

“Nice of you to drop in,” he said vaguely.

The late-comers looked at him dejectedly.

“If you’re friends of Ann,” said George hospitably, “would you like some breakfast?” The young man shrugged his shoulders.

“We came to breakfast,” he returned dismally. A soft laugh rippled from Ann.

“Very pleased,” said George. “Mockett, eggs and bacon for two.”

“But we don’t want any now,” snapped the dark girl. “It’s no use.”

Continued on page 41

Staying the Night

Continued from page 17—Starts on page 16

“Sorry,” said George. “Mockett, no eggs and bacon for two.”

There was another pause.

“Well,” said the young man, “Ann seems to have the situation well in hand. It appears to be up to us to extract ourselves painlessly from this little gathering. So long, Mr. Pascali. Come on, Irene.”

“Good-by, dears,” said Ann.

They went out of the room. A moment later the front door banged behind them.

NOW'!” said George. He pointed to an armchair by the window. “Sit down there, Ann.”

“I must go, too,” she said.

“Sit down,” said George.

She obeyed. He planted himself in front of her.

“What’s all this?”

“Please—” said Ann.

He checked her firmly.

“Nothing more is going to happen in the young lives of either of us until I know all about it.”

She sighed.

“You’re rather a dear, George,” she told him softly.

“Possibly,” said George grimly.

“I’m a very respectable girl, George,” she said. “I live on the other side of the park. It’s not so nice as this. I’ve only been in London six weeks. Got that?”

“Go on,” said George.

“My parents are in the country. I’m living with my sister.”

“Indeed?” said George. “And does your sister know that you were not living with her last night?”

Ann trilled.

“Of course she does! She’d have been here, too, if she’d been as smart as I was.”

George dropped back into another chair.

Continued on page 42

Continued from page 41

“This is beyond me,” he said weakly.

“I shouldn’t be surprised,” said Ann, “if about fifty more people turned up in the next half hour.”

“Fifty?” gasped George.

“At least.”

“But what for? Has my flat suddenly become the Mecca of a frantic pilgrimage? Are people paying large sums to stand on my carpet, or hold my pipes with their eyes shut? Is there some marvellous virtue in my coffee, or what is it? There must be something behind this public enthusiasm. Or do they merely want to look through the bars at Mockett?”

“Nothing of the sort,” said Ann. “They’re coming for the same reason that I did— money.”

“If fifty people are coming to this flat for money,” said George, “al! I can say is, they’re the most hopeful and unluckiest pilgrims that ever progressed.”

“It’s not your money we want,” she assured him.

“That’s a relief. But, so far as I know, there is a complete absence of anyone else’s money here—unless Mockett has been leading a double life as a receiver or a collector for charities.”

She opened her bag, took out a half-sheet of note paper, and unfolded it.

“I am still,” said George patiently, “without any what one might call really convincing explanation of why you climbed up the fire escape and through the spare room window at quarter past twelve last night.”

"I’m just going to tell you,” she said. “Listen to this. I’ll read it aloud : I

“Gee! Look what follows the name of a saint! )

It’s a summons from father—see if it ain’t !”

“A noble verse,” said George. “Shakespeare’s game at its best. Overflowing with lofty sentiment and strong healthy romance. What does it mean?”

“It means you,” said Ann.

“Me?”

“Your name is hidden in it.”

“If it is,” said George, “they might at least have wrapped me up in decent grammar. Where am I?”

“Don’t you see it?”

“The beauty of the lines slightly obscures their meaning. I don’t see it,”

“Try,” said Ann.

GEORGE considered. “I’m a

certainly not a saint, and it would surprise me to know I was a father. I give it up.”

“Wait a minute,” she said. “There’s a bit more:

“The police have many, but not this one;

If you lighten the beer, then p’r’aps you’ve done.” i i

“Finely expressed,” said George. “What part of me is in that?”

“Your address. It brought me here.”

“If you tell me,” he said, “that those fatuous and execrable lines brought you to this (lat, I shall believe you. If anyone else told me, I shouldn’t.”

“It’s quite true. I’ll show you.”

“Go ahead,” said George resignedly.

“In the first place ‘Gee’.”

“A courteous old-world exclamation, frequently addressed to horses as an incitement to acceleration.”

“Also a capital letter. And the name of a saint. Of course it was Saint George. That was easy.”

George rose to his feet unsteadily.

“Ann Morton—”

She waved him back to his seat.

"I had to do some thinking over the next. ‘A summons from father.’ But I got it. All it wanted was an apostrophe. Then it was clear. Don’t you see? Pa’s call. Pascali. That’s a summons from father, isn’t it?” George writhed.

“Good heavens! Are there really people in the world who perstrate atrocities of this kind?”

“Then there was the address,” said Ann. “ ‘The police have many, but not this one.’ A s(X)t of brain work got that. Court.” George was holding himself down in his chair.

“The last line was a teaser. ‘Lighten the beer.’ Then I saw it. If you take a ton off anything it lightens it, doesn’t it?”

“It does,” admitted George cautiously, “in ordinary sane matters.”

“Well, if a ton is taken off Worthington, it leaves Worthing. Worthing Court. That’s this address.”

“For pity’s sake—” said George feebly.

SHE PUT the paper back in her bag.

“We had to do twelve different things in twenty-four hours. This was the clue to the last one. The winner was to be the first competitor to have breakfast with the person whose identity was hidden in the lines. I solved it, and made certain of being the first here in the morning by coming in and staying the night. So I win the prize of a hundred pounds.”

George drew a deep breath.

“So it was just a game?”

“For charity,” said Ann. “We all subscribed ten pounds each. It’s been so successful we’re going to do some more.” “May I ask,” enquired George, “why my name and address were picked on for the final goal?”

“You know Jimmy Brent?”

“Of course I do. He’s one of my oldest friends.”

“That accounts for it,” she said. “He organized it and drew up the clues. Perhaps he decided on you because you’re not in the phone book, so we couldn’t solve your address that way.”

“I see,” said George.

They got up. They were very close together. A ray of sunlight through the window played on her hair.

“You’ve been awfully sporting about it,” she said.

“Ann,” said George, “I don’t know what your charity is, but I feel inclined to subscribe a hundred pounds to it myself in return—”

“For what?”

“For finding you.”

There was a sudden succession of staccato attacks on the knocker.

“Good lord!” said George, “that’s the next bunch of solvers.” He seized her arm. and pulled her toward a door on the other side of the room. “Let’s go through here. We’ll run down the fire escape and get the car. Come on, Ann!”

Ann came on.

+ + + +

Fever Cures Disease

THE IDEA of a doctor trying to give his patient a fever would have seemed revolutionary and crazy in our grandfathers’ time, when every effort was bent toward driving the fever out of the sick body. Now it has become a friend, something with which to fight and cure diseases. Since the Viennese physician, Wagner von Jauregg, found that the high fever of malaria was curing syphilitic infection, medical scientists have used malaria and many other means to induce fever in the treatment of disease. By electricity and by short radio waves and by prolonged hot baths they have deliberately raised their patients’ temperatures to what once would have been considered dangerous levels. The latest tool for producing fever is, strangely enough, air conditioning, hailed originally for the relief it brought from uncomfortably hot summer weather.

The idea of how fever brings about a cure has changed, too, even in the short time that it has been used as a form of treatment. Medical scientists first thought the high temperatures killed the disease germs. Dr. F. W. Hartman, of the Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, explained in demonstrating his airconditioning apparatus for inducing fever that in his opinion the fever acts by stimulating the defensive mechanism of the body. —Science Service.